27 November 2012

Universities: A New Class of "Robber Barons"

Universities Steal from the Poor and Give to the Sinecured and Connected

Modern universities are bloated monstrosities, monuments to bureaucratic greed and self-interest, at the expense of lower and lower-middle class students and families.
“I have no idea what these people do,” said Robinson, waving his hand across a row of offices, his voice rising. The 59-year-old professor of biomedical engineering is leading a faculty revolt against bureaucratic bloat at the public university in Indiana. In the past decade, the number of administrative employees jumped 54 percent, almost eight times the growth of tenured and tenure-track faculty.

...Administrative costs on college campuses are soaring, crowding out instruction at a time of skyrocketing tuition and $1 trillion in outstanding student loans... U.S. universities employed more than 230,000 administrators in 2009, up 60 percent from 1993, or 10 times the rate of growth of the tenured faculty, those with permanent positions and job security, according to U.S. Education Department data.

Spending on administration has been rising faster than funds for instruction and research... _Fat Cat University Staff
While the fat cat administrative staff are living very well, more and more members of the lower and lower middle classes are being caught in the debt trap -- sometimes for life. When poor students are forced to drop out of school with high tuition debts, their parents and grandparents can be sued to pay the debt -- which cannot be discharged by bankruptcy. The same thing can also happen when students actually graduate -- but with what are essentially worthless degrees.

It was not always this way. Tuition was once relatively affordable, and not so hard to pay off.
The total cost of my tuition over four years was less than $5,000. Measured another way, the payback period was about nine months’ gross salary at my first job. Viewed as an investment in equipment, getting an MIT education was, as they say, a no-brainer. If tuition costs had risen in line with inflation, that original $1,000 for a year’s tuition would now be $7,972, according to the CPI calculator on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Today the actual tuition is $40,732 (not including room and board), so it’s pretty safe to say that everyday inflation hasn’t been the driving force behind the increase in college tuition. _DallasNews
Universities have grown to be a new class of robber barons, stealing from the poor and giving to the well off sinecured and connected bureaucrat. The degree to which university disbursements have become corrupt payoffs and set-asides is carefully papered over by vested interests. If students, parents, and grandparents had a better understanding of what their lives and finances were being ruined to pay for, the outrage would be difficult to contain.

The first thing that young people and their families need to understand is that not everyone should go to college. In general, only those with IQs of at least 110 points should get a 4 year degree. And for the rigorous degrees, an IQ of at least 115 is probably needed. The popular attempt to push everyone through college -- at all costs -- is a most significant part of this problem.

Even so, there is no reason for most degrees to be so ruinously expensive -- or for most degrees to be so absurdly worthless on the jobs market. But don't expect any good solutions from the US federal government, which is controlled by the Chicago Outfit. The Chicago Outfit is not known for its dedication to giving high value for payments received. The answers will have to come from other directions -- to the extent that the Chicago Outfit allows.

Salman Khan, founder of the free online Khan Academy, thinks that a quality education should be free. He believes that the only cost incurred by graduates should be the cost of certifying the retention and utility of the student's new knowledge and skills.

Online courses aim to change the educational landscape. In the US, more than one state governor has expressed a desire to see his state's university system devise a "$10,000 degree program" -- a no-frills way for students to get a 4 year degree without becoming indebted for life.

The devastation that has been caused by the university : government : financial complex is immense and in many ways, immeasurable. In this arena -- as in the 2007 / 2008 housing bubble and collapse -- the government is a central part of a problem that is causing much ongoing human hardship for its own people.

Fortunately, this is a problem which Dangerous Children do not have to suffer. By the time a Dangerous Child reaches the age of 18, he or she will have the skills to support themselves economically at least three different ways. At that point, they can either take college or leave it -- but if they take it, they will take it on their own terms.

If you have young children or are planning to have some, the gift of a dangerous childhood may be the most valuable gift you can give them. As for yourself: It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood. You may have to improvise a bit, but that will be good for your character. ;-)

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Blogger Stephen said...

If a party like the Republicans had any sense, they would try to win the debt slaves over at the expense of the leftist universities by trying to get student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy court.

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012  
Blogger Southern Man said...

You get what you subsidize. The government made student loans cheap and easy to get, creating a surplus of money; universities responded by competing for students with top-notch atheletics and resort-quality dorms to obtain that money.

Speaking as a STEM professor at a private liberal-arts university - the old truism is that in education the further you are from the students, the more money you make. We PhD professors are the easily-replacable cogs in the machine; the "beautiful people" with the six-figure salaries are over in the admin tower.

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012  
Blogger Matt M said...

Governor Perry in Texas has set up the goal of the $10,000 college degree. Books, tuition, classes all for $10,000. Clearly, much would be online and more would be assembly line style mega classes. But, I had 200 and 400 person classes when I was at the University of Texas in the 1970's. So, it seems reasonable to me.

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012  
Blogger Matt M said...

The other line you should plot on your graph is starting salaries for College Grads. Salaries have gone up 2% a year while tuition has gone up at 5 times that figure.

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

The chart comes from MJ Perry at Carpe Diem blog.


Tuesday, 27 November, 2012  
Blogger Lime Lite said...

Not sure if you have a similar set-up in the USA to Australia, but here we have TAFE (Technical and Further Education) facilities for non-academic students. My one son has ADHD and hates studying, so is currently doing a 4-year Electrician apprenticeship through the local TAFE and has employment and is earning a salary at the same time. TAFE's offer a variety of technical degrees here (eg. plumber, carpentry, hairdressing, fashion design etc) which gives kids who aren't interested in hitting the books a chance to make a very decent living. In fact, last year our blue collar workers earned more than the white collar workers for the first time. I'm looking to retire when my son qualifies as an A-grade Sparky :-)

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Interesting. Vocational training in the US was once quite good in many areas, but over the past several decades it has been starved for funds and facilities at the high school level -- where it was most effective.

An insane near-compulsive belief that every child should get a liberal arts college education has almost destroyed the US educational system, and much of the US economy.

The compulsion has made a lot of university administrators and government education dept. bureaucrats quite comfortable and secure for life, however.

Any public that is stupid enough to believe that every child can benefit from a 4 year college degree, is far too stupid for most of its children to benefit from a 4 year college degree.

Wednesday, 28 November, 2012  

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